Evaluating new ideas for your start-up

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Got lots of ideas running through your mind? Thinking about starting a business but not sure that your many ideas will stack up? Already running a business but are looking to innovate and introduce new ideas?

How do you evaluate which ones to develop and which ones to drop? There are so many examples of existing businesses picking the wrong idea to develop or worse dropping an idea which has then gone on to be successful – think Kodak and the digital camera.

The NABC method (Need, Approach, Benefits, Competition) used by some venture capitalists has proved to be very valuable for new businesses or businesses looking to innovate.  Very often it will be useful to group the ideas that come up by general concept and then make a selection from each group.

All key decision makers should be involved in the process and the following method should consider the following rules:

  • Get it all out – before spending time on generating new ideas be sure to get any existing ones out first.
  • No limits to creativity – Anything goes.  This is important to establish – there is room for each and every idea.
  • No copyright – At this stage there is no “ownership” of ideas.  All ideas belong to everyone.  Ideas emerge and are developed though teamwork.
  • Quantity has precedence over quality – At this stage it is important to generate as many ideas as possible.  Those that are “off the wall” may turn out to be exciting and bring the group into interesting new territories.
  • Avoid negativity – Responses such as, “But we have already tried that” are counter -productive and have no place in the new idea process.
  • Ten seconds – To make sure ideas do not get lost write them down within ten seconds
  • Cast the net wide – Regardless of whether an idea is likely to be implemented or look strategically important, the focus should be on generating radical rather than incremental ideas.
  1. Development – Once the above process has finished, the most promising idea that has emerged is developed into a concept according to the NABC principle
  2. Sharing – Each group presents their ideas to the other participants in an elevator pitch style: it should be precise, short, headline grabbing and underlined by core facts.
  3. Water holing – After each presentation, the group receives feedback.  Any answers from the presenting group should only be points of clarification; they will not respond to criticisms directly.  All criticisms are to be held and worked on in the next round of the NABC process.  And of course all criticism offered during feedback must be constructive.
  4. Redesign – In the final phase, any weaknesses and challenges that have been uncovered are addressed by way of new ideas.  Assumptions are re-evaluated and new impulses taken in and developed into a new NABC pitch.

Following step 4 a new cycle is instituted in which each team now presents improved ideas and concepts.  Iterative application of the NABC method is very useful to substantiate the ideas that have been developed and their weaknesses often come to light at this stage.

If you would like to know more about how we can help your start-up or existing business evaluate business ideas either directly or part of a university enterprise programme please click on the appropriate link.

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